A Scotland which devalues unpaid carers:
On Wednesday MSPs will debate the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Bill. This is an important piece of legislation that will help determine how much support unpaid carers in Scotland receive from their local authorities.
As a carer myself, I know how important support is to enable us to continue to care for our loved ones. However the Bill in its current form could mean carers will face charges from local authorities to access the support they need to continue being carers.
We have been informed that very few , if any, of the proposed amendments to the Self Directed Support Bill in relation to unpaid carers have been moved for Stage 3, with the exception of at least one amendment submitted by Scottish Labour which relates to: Section 16 of the Bill would amend section 87 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (concerning local authorities’ powers to charge for services or support) and would have the effect of allowing local authorities to charge for support provided to carers under section 2 of the Bill.
This amendment has not be supported by the Government. If this amendment is not accepted it will effectively open up the possibility that local authorities can extend charges for support to thousands of unpaid carers who love and support those with a disability or long term health condition.
Carers have very few rights and, each day, we find it more difficult (due to existing charging and tightening eligibility criteria) to access the support needed to ensure that the people we love and care for can live with dignity and be fully part of our communities.
We cannot understand why this Government has chosen not to strengthen the rights of carers when Ministers consistently tell us how much our contribution is valued. By effectively extending charging for support to us, any commitment to valuing carers is demeaned.
Is this the vision for an independent Scotland - one where carers who provide some £10 billion of care and support every year - are charged when they need a bit of help, which sustains their ability to care?
We ask that this Government reconsider the amendments submitted by carers’ organisations. We believe the amendment submitted to remove the provision which extends the ability to charge, and others suggested relating to carers’ assessments and a duty to support carers will strengthen provision for Scotland's 600,000 unpaid carers, a group who save this country in excess of £10 Billion per year, a group that is growing, and may well include many of those who read this, if not now, perhaps in the future. We ask that when the debate takes place next Wednesday all MSPs will put aside party politics and vote to strengthen this Bill for unpaid carers.